Jockey Joel Dominguez Clinches His First Leading Rider Title
Bossier City, LA – The 2020 Thoroughbred racing season at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, which got underway one month late due to COVID-19, wrapped up on Saturday, September 26. Eleven races were contested today: three from Tuesday, September 22 and eight races from the Wednesday, September 23 card which were canceled due to heavy rain from Tropical Storm Beta.
Steve Asmussen Wins Both Leading Trainer and Owner Titles
It’s been quite a summer for Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen who claimed both leading trainer and owner of the meet titles at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.
As a trainer, Asmussen started 124 runners, winning 41 races and adding 22 seconds and 23 thirds. He sent a combination of maidens, claimers and allowance entrants, doing well on both the main track and Franks Turf Course. Rue Lala, owned by William and Corinne Heiligbrodt in partnership with Spendthrift Farm LLC, broke her maiden here impressively on September 5 and wheeled back in the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile Fillies, finishing a game second to multiple stakes winner Mirabeau.
“She is a very nice Louisiana-bred,” said Asmussen. “The Heiligbrodts were one of my first owners and their support means a great deal to me.”
Asmussen credited the racing officials at Louisiana Downs as well as the track surfaces.
“Louisiana Downs stepped up when other tracks were trying to figure out when they might be able to open,” stated Asmussen. “They have excellent track surfaces, which is one of the reasons we support Louisiana Downs and are proud of this accomplishment.”
For the second year in a row, Karl Broberg, finished second with 38 wins. However, Broberg did edge Asmussen in purses with his runners banking $448,275 over $423,440 earned by Asmussen’s string. Shane Wilson who had not stabled at Louisiana Downs for the past eight years, won 32 races and 2019 leading conditioner Joey Foster rounded out the top four, saddling 24 winners.
Asmussen was able to top his fellow owners with 19 wins from 52 starts. His horses won 37% of their starts with earnings of $147,835.
Wayne T. Davis finished second in the owner standings with 17 wins. His horses earned $188,405 and are conditioned by Shane Wilson. End Zone Athletics, Inc. won 16 of their 75 starts with Tri-Star Racing LLC and M and M Racing finishing in a tie for fourth with nine victories each.
September has been not only successful, but historical for Asmussen as on Friday, September 17, he won his 9,000th career victory with Troy Ounce at Remington Park. He is now second to Dale Baird, who holds the North American record for training wins with 9,445. Over the summer, Asmussen has won races at Saratoga, Churchill Downs, Ellis Park, Kentucky Downs, Lone Star Park, Remington Park and Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.
“I believe I won one previous title at Louisiana Downs, but it might have been a year that the Fair Grounds meet was run in Shreveport,” he said.
Asmussen credits assistants Mitch Dennison, who coordinated the Louisiana Downs entries and other duties from his Kentucky base and Misty Drinkwater, who is in her second year of handling the day-to-day duties at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.
“Misty deserves a great deal of credit,” added Asmussen. “She is extremely organized and does a fabulous job with our Louisiana runners.”
Joel Dominguez Wins His First Leading Rider Title
Jockey Joel Dominguez has made the most of his four-year tenure at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.
The 30-year-old native of Durango, Mexico began in 2017 as an apprentice, winning 31 races that year and returning in 2018, losing his bug, but finishing third in the standings as he transitioned to the journeyman ranks. He improved to second last year, but powered to the lead early in the 2020 meet and built an unsurpassable lead over his fellow riders. Dominguez completed the meet with a record of 71 wins, 59 seconds, 50 thirds and $903,325 in purses.
He rode first call for Steve Asmussen this season, who he galloped for in Kentucky when he first came to the United States. His highlights this meet included winning four races on the July 25 card, which included three wins for Asmussen and one for trainer James “Sweet” Hodges.
On Saturday, September 19, Dominguez won two of the six Louisiana Cup Stakes, coming from off the pace aboard Budro Talking for Keith Austin in the Turf Classic and finishing the card with an upset aboard Saltee Stark from the barn of Joe O. Duhon in the Louisiana Cup Sprint.
“I want to thank Steve and all the trainers who put me on mounts,” said Dominguez. “When I was in Kentucky, I worked for Steve and trainer Neil Howard. Steve began to trust me galloping some of his top horses; I remember the first time I worked Rachel Alexandra. That was very special and gave me so much confidence! Neil helped me get my license and we still stay in touch.”
Dominguez paid his dues in Kentucky and his work ethic is applauded by Asmussen.
“Joel is an excellent horseman and has turned into a great jockey,” he said.
Dominguez’ agent is former jockey, Don Simington and the two have a strong bond.
“Don gives me great advice and feedback,” explained Dominguez. “I admire that he is the first one to arrive in the morning and the last to leave. Trainers know him well and he works hard to book me on good horses.”
Dominguez extended his gratitude to his wife Janet, and sons, Andy and Joel Jr. and expressed his thanks to others.
“I also want to thank the Louisiana Downs racing office staff for their hard work as well as my valet Oscar Lara,” added Dominguez. “Mitch and Misty have been great to work with and I appreciate the hard work of all the grooms, hot walkers and exercise riders. I would not have won this title without so many people helping me!”
Last year’s top jockey Carlos Lozada finished with 40 wins, tying for second in the standings with Jose Andres Guerrero. Next was Jack Gilligan with 37 victories and Gerardo Mora, who won 35 races.
Dominguez will ride next at Delta Downs when their 2020-2021 Thoroughbred season gets underway.
“We thank each of our horsemen for their support since the live racing season began on June 6,” said David Heitzmann, Director of Racing at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs. “This has been a very challenging year due to COVID-19 and a very volatile Hurricane season which has impacted so many people in our state. We look forward to a much better 2021 for our racing industry.”
Harrah’s Louisiana Downs to Offer Training and Stall Space to Horsemen
Harrah’s Louisiana Downs is pleased to offer horsemen an opportunity to train and stable their Thoroughbreds during the months of October through March.
When the Evangeline Training Center closed in 2018, officials acknowledged that many Louisiana Thoroughbred trainers were in need of a facility to stable and train their racehorses. The Bossier City-Shreveport metroplex offers convenient proximity for shipping to Delta Downs in Vinton, Louisiana; Fair Grounds in New Orleans; Remington Park in Oklahoma as well as upcoming live meets at Sam Houston Race Park and Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Space and availability for Thoroughbreds is limited and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Horsemen are encouraged to contact David Heitzmann, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Director of Racing at (318) 741-2511 or (318) 741-2512 for rates and information.
About Harrah’s Louisiana Downs
Located near Shreveport in Bossier City, Louisiana, Louisiana Downs opened in 1974 and was purchased by Caesars Entertainment in December, 2002. With annual Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing seasons, the track is committed to presenting the highest quality racing programs paired with its 150,000 square foot entertainment complex offering casino gambling, dining and plasma screen televisions for sports and simulcast racing.
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